What Are the Most Common Xylitol Side Effects?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in many different plants and is often used as a sugar substitute, it typically well-tolerated by people in small amounts but can cause some unpleasant side effects when consumed in large quantities. The most common problem it causes is gastrointestinal upset, which can include bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It has been found to cause increases in uric acid levels in the blood, and can also cause low blood sugar levels. Other xylitol side effects can include a rash, swelling in the mouth or throat, and difficulty breathing if there is an allergic reaction to it.

Some of the main xylitol side effects that can occur are problems with the digestive system. Xylitol has laxative properties, so it can lead to stomach and intestinal upset, particularly in people who eat too much of it. Many people experience excessive gas in these cases, leading to discomfort, bloating, and flatulence. It may also lead to diarrhea if the person's normal digestive function is disrupted. One way to avoid these issues is to increase one's intake of xylitol slowly over time.


Another of the xylitol side effects that has been reported with high intake of the substance is an increase in uric acid levels. This can be a problem particularly for people who are given xylitol by IV in large quantities, which may be done to provide a source of energy to some patients. A high uric acid level may be an issue as it can increase the risk that a person will develop kidney stones.

Hypoglycemia is also one of the xylitol side effects that can occur in heavy consumers. Used as a sweetener to replace sugar, it can be very helpful in the diets of patients like diabetics who need to control their sugar intake. For others, however, too much of it may decrease their sugar intake to the point that blood sugar levels drop too low.

Some people may be allergic to xylitol, in which case they can experience side effects related to that reaction. They may feel itchy or get a rash or hives on their skin. Swelling may occur in the mouth or throat, making it difficult to swallow. In severe cases, the person may begin wheezing and have trouble breathing. This type of reaction can be very dangerous, so it is important to seek medical attention if it occurs.


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Post 4

I have been altering recipes for a while since my husband developed diabetes. He uses stevia quite a bit, but it has an aftertaste to me, so I have been blending stevia granules and xylitol granules (crystals) and sugar to give a great sweetness without the side effects for any of them, like the aftertaste. I have also found that in using these three together, I can reduce the total amount needed for the recipes and get the same sweetness as if I used just sugar.

I started by using one-third, one-third and one-third. I also started blending xylitol and sugar in my pantry so I am already getting a half-and-half ratio there. I am

now finding that half stevia and half my blend works very well in the recipes I have tried so far, and I still reduce the total amount the original recipe calls for.

I order the xylitol and stevia crystals online. I also order the Truvia brand stevia, without the dextrose additive (they have two kinds for sale). Look for the white package with the green writing and make sure to check the ingredient listing to make sure you are getting the pure stevia kind.

And I order Sweetleaf Stevia, both drops and crystals for different uses. Stevia brands do have different tastes. We went through about five brands to find Sweetleaf has the least aftertaste. The part of the leaves and tree that are used makes a big difference in what you get in taste. Good luck!

Post 3

Too much xylitol gives me diarrhea, bloating and pain. I realized this after eating a lot of sugar-free chocolate spread. I developed all these symptoms and then noticed the warning on the label. It says "excessive consumption may have a laxative effect." It's clearly the xylitol causing these issues for me.

Post 2

@fBoyle-- I have not seen information about that at all. I don't think any human studies have been done on this topic. There might be studies done on rats. I think if there were any human studies that showed that xylitol use can lead to tumors, the WHO and FDA would not allow its use. But xylitol is a very popular sweetener and ingredient used in many countries across the word. This includes developed, advanced countries.

I personally believe that moderation is key to everything. Xylitol might be something that needs to be studied further. Just because it has not been found to be dangerous now does not mean that it might not have risks after long term use. So just use foods and candies with xylitol in moderation.

Post 1

I remember reading somewhere that long term use of xylitol can cause tumors. Is there any truth to this?

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